I get asked all the time by corporate friends (as well as normal people) if I make sneaky visits to fashion stores for when I need to 'really' dress up. The real question most people are asking is if it's true that you can dress well and sustainably. And the real answer is yes. Definitely yes.
So much about living well is simply slowing down and taking a minute or ten to consider your options. The trick to successful wardrobe assembly is to treat every piece of fashion you acquire as a piece of your ultimate wardrobe puzzle and it will get a workout that lasts for years. It doesn't matter what your lifestyle, the rules are the same. From 20-something to 80-something, there are well made, fashionable clothes that suit every age and any fashion sense - from Op Shop casual to Boardroom Suiting or big night Glam. The rules are simple. Know your own style and live on the edge of trends - be more up to the year, rather than up to the minute.
This seems kind of a ridiculous thing to say, especially as you grow through different ages and stages, but each of us does have a personal style and there are patterns to the way we dress. Capturing that style and working it is key. It really helps to visit stylists - a service many stores offer. Collect advice as you go, testing the pieces and advice you like and eventually you will come to understand what you love and what you don't, and find a balance.
One of the most important things to do is to honour your own life and sense of style. If prefer to dress like an Op Shop Queen, do it. If you prefer to dress in high fashion, go there. While others can tell you what suits you, they can't tell you how to live. The more you match your fashion to how you live, the more you will wear and enjoy it and the more you will find ways to weave your own style.
Slow fashion lives in every category of fashion. It isn't about wearing some old sack, layered with another old sack to hide the lack of styling in the first sack. Slow Fashion is simply not Fast Fashion. Slow Fashion is well made clothes, preferably made in a place you know and at the very least, known not to be made by slaves at any part of its supply chain.
There is this old fashioned idea that the secondhand fashion market is the domain of Gen Z Op shoppers who eventually grow out of the habit oncethey make some money. But that has all changed - to the point where secondhand shopping is taking over new retail. You can literally buy any brand of clothing secondhand or rescued from landfill, at any price point. You just need to know where to look - and what to buy when you get there.
Slum Studio's Sel Kofiga talks this point up rather well:
"I THINK WE ALL ADORE AND TAKE GOOD CARE OF ARTWORK, I WANT THE WORLD TO SEE MY CLOTHES AS SUCH. IF WE TAKE GOOD CARE OF ARTWORKS THEY LAST LONGER, LET US DO THE SAME WITH OUR CLOTHES."
Collect your clothes like you might collect art, slowly piecing together different artists as you fill the spaces and times of your life, creating meaning and memories.
If art isn't your thing, and investment is, think of your fashion like you make investments or the way you contribute to your superannuation. For a lifetime.
Over time, you become your own granny's closet, with a fashion sense to show for it. I know this is true because it is literally me. There are clothes in my closet that have been there for more than 20 years and are now in their 2nd fashion cycle. (Ok, maybe even longer and 3 cycles).
In the main pic, the Vivienne Westwood shirt jacket and Emporio Armani belt came from Secondo in South Yarra, Melbourne nearly 20 years ago, the Review top was new in 1999 and so were the Bikie Boots, which came from Midas. The Bubble skirt is landfill rescued fashion from not for profit, Styling Station in Brisbane.
- If you are wearing a loose fitting or oversized top, pair it with a tight pant or pencil skirt. Do a tiny tuck of the front hem or thread the top through your belt loop.
- If you are wearing wide leg pants or a full skirt, pair with a fitted top to balance your proportions.
- Skinny jeans are out. Loose fitting, baggy, retro inspired styles are in. Cargos, culottes, and casual pants. Complete the look with a casual sneaker, fuzzy slide or cushioned flip flops.
If you are lucky enough to live in Brisbane, you can head to Styling Station and for $90 get both a complete outfit of a well known, quality brand, and get a ton of styling advice at the same time. (You need to book for styling, but you can also head in and try your luck.)